Highlights from my participation at 11th WCC Assembly, by Zoughbi Zoughbi
The 11th World Council of Churches Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany was indeed a celebration of life from diverse churches, dignitaries, students, patriarchs, bishops, clergy, nuns, professors, and political, social, and economic leaders of the world.
I was representing Wi’am: Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre at the Assembly. It was uplifting on the spiritual level to participate in the different gatherings and prayers from different churches that all carried the message that we are one in Christ. It was a vivacious celebration of faith, based on diversity and unity; “For you are all one in Christ” (Colossians 3:11). Throughout each day, participants were able to build relationships with each other, build bridges, and create solidarity across dividing lines of geography, conflict zones, nations, cultures, religions, theologies, class, gender, and race and many more. In addition, many of us had the opportunity to meet with others who were in different booths, committee meetings, weekend excursions, workshops, home groups, and we took coffee and meals together.
I also represented Wi’am as part of a KAIROS Canada delegation and was a panelist at a workshop titled “Lessons from Women Peacebuilders on Transformation to More Peaceful, Just and Sustainable Relationships Among all Peoples and with Creation.” It was enriching to speak at this workshop, with my peer, National Women’s Program Coordinator from the South Sudan Council of Churches, Jackcilia Salathiel, and with Jane Thirikwa, KAIROS Global Partnerships Coordinator, who facilitated the meeting. It was a great opportunity for the workshop attendees to learn about the situation of women in Palestine and South Sudan. Among the discussion was the centering of gender issues in regions experiencing conflict, as well as sharing successful stories of change. After our presentation, there was an engaging exchange with participants, through a question-and-answer session, sharing and learning.
On one of the afternoons, Aisha Francis, the Executive Director of KAIROS, Jackcilia, Jane and I, shared a lunch at a Greek restaurant in Karlsruhe, over a variety of conversations related to all of our work and contexts, empowering each other and our continued partnerships. We shared words of encouragement to take the less traveled road.
These are some of the many highlights from my participation at the Assembly that I would like to highlight:
- Opportunities to enhance the spirit of ecumenism: talking to different people from all over the world emphasizes that we are one extended family living in a global village. We realize first that there will be no future for Christianity without ecumenism and no future for world peace without pluralism.
- The theme of the WCC Assembly was “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” What is missing is Justice and Healing. There will be no reconciliation and peace without justice. It was clear when dealing with pressing issues, that there exist double standards in addressing the conflicts in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, and injustices experienced by Europeans as compared to Indigenous peoples and the majority of the world. I do not know when we will learn that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
- We should learn from different lessons in the world and especially stories of success, but many times we are entrenched in our tribalism, narrow concepts of nationalism, biased politics, and self-interests.
- We need to think that justice – and only justice – will lead us to a better future, with better understanding, and a brotherly and sisterly relationships among nations and peoples. I had the opportunity to meet with Indigenous peoples, like Māori, Sami, and from Canada, the USA and other places in the South as well as the East.
- There will be no liberation for people without liberation for women—women and gender rights are the basis of emancipating all nations.
To sum up, we highlight our appreciation and thanks to KAIROS Canada who gave us this opportunity to celebrate. We also give our gratitude to the WCC which has done a remarkable job in bringing all faithful peoples from different corners of the world to celebrate life and hope.
Zoughbi Zoughbi is the Founder and Director, Wi’am: Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center, Palestine.